Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Blog Blurting," Education, Coates Bluff Land Trust, Fund-Raising Discussed at Last Meeting

In attendance: Robert Trudeau, Will Loe, Barbara Jarrell, Cynthia Keith, Brian Salvatore, Sarah Galloway, Steph Pedro, Feico Kempff


It was agreed that board donations averaging $50-100 per board member would be appropriate, and would go a long way towards raising funds for the non-profit fees. It was noted that after fund-raising from ourselves it could us in a good stead for applying for a grant to finish the funding.

We could apply for a NIP grant such as TACA has won to help fund their non-profit status; Will said his wife Amy Loe knows a lot about the NIP grants; it involves attending meetings, etc.


In the meantime, in order to proceed with fund raising for the dog park, we’ll be meeting with Paula Hickman and the Community Foundation on Wednesday, piggy-backing on Majors and Pedro’s meeting with her on the bike plan; we be seeing about the possibility of have an account housed under the Community Foundation to handle the money raised for the dog park.

Later, during a discussion of the Coates Bluff Team’s progress on various fronts, it was decided that Feico Kempff would join us at that meeting with Paula Hickman to see if a similar arrangement could be made that would allow us to move ahead with creating a land trust that would preserve the land to be used for the greenway and nature trail. There needs to be a board that sets up policies for overseeing the land.


Will Loe and Cynthia Keith talked about the cost of the dog park and different features. Water and fencing are the biggest costs. The places we’re talking about don’t have water; plus pavilion area and benches.

The Dog Park committee is going to meet tomorrow (Tuesday), but also invites anyone interested to join them at 5:30 p.m. at the Naked Bean to discuss fund-raising strategies.

Keith updated the group on a talk she had with Tim Geodders and Roy Jambor on the area around Stoner. It was once a landfill and some say glass has worked its way up to the surface and there are some contaminants in the ground there and things can’t grow there well. But, because it’s a park area the city is responsible for capping it.


Demerath briefed the group on the Coates Bluff team’s work: 1 – pitching partners, 2 – prepping for charette by Dana; 3 – working on the land trust. (In an aside, Trudeau recommended “The Clearing” by Tim Gautreaux about clear-cutting forests in Louisiana; a violent, primitive, difficult setting with malaria and yellow fever; mafia involvement; oppressive conditions for African-American workers, etc.) Steph Pedro recommended a movie that illustrated the problems we could meet with if we don’t move on a land trust: it’s called “The Garden” by Scott Hamilton Kennedy, about the largest urban garden in LA that was torn down because the gardeners didn’t secure the land. That’s what Jon is concerned about is why Feico has been urging us to move forward on that for a while now. (And now, by gosh, we are!)

Pedro told of how she recently went to Coates bluff with her dog (which did get some ticks, btw) and her friends Jen and her cousin in high school and they all loved it. Did a lot of bird watching, and it inspired her friend to be more nature conscious.


One person shared an opinion from a sometime attender but frequent reader of the blog, asking if we ever think about things before we blurt them out. Demerath said he’s a fan of the open network approach to things and thinks more good can come of openness than being circumspect and cautious about sharing information and opinions. Demerath shared the exchange with Pam via Steve Godfrey and the new dimmer switch there. The need for spaces like the Naked Bean was noted, and Sarah Galloway described the new Artspace renovation that will have a larger cafĂ© area that will come forward toward the front.

As another example of the benefits that can come of publishing the meeting notes, Demerath briefed the group on Adam Causey’s interest in a topic discussed recently for which he is now working on an article. (But blurting isn’t beneficial everywhere, especially in the “scoop” conscious land of journalism, so we won’t say what it’s about!)


We viewed a site passed on by Maurice Loridans that gives tips for preventing any bikeway backlashes as groups like ours move forward in trying create a more bike-able city.

Pedro noted that in New Orleans recently they studied the impact of bike lanes and women riders have increased two-fold because of feeling safer. They also had a remarkable 95% rate of reaching potential users to educate and solicit feedback, largely through schools. They amount to good tips for Pedro and Majors on how to develop and market the bike plan.

As an aside, we haven’t mentioned in the blog that Loridans recently donated a bike to Cohabitat for use around town by any Cohabitat member.


Keith announced the www.ssbala.com South Shreveport Business Association has begun meeting. Its boundaries are I-49 to the west, the river to the east, the parish line to the south, and downtown to the north; Keith is honored to be on the board that consists of government officials, residents, and business people; at the first board meeting they had someone speak about the master plan; at the next one they discussed downtown and how much they want to help with it; Beth Chumley (President) was interviewed by Tom Pace about how they are against sprawl, think it hurts downtown. (It was also noted how they see the value of greenspaces, particularly well-executed as in Pittsburgh currently.) Their first meeting is at East Ridge, January 27th. It is a non-profit and is $50 to join. Roy Jambor thought it was going to be a really good business organization. Angelo Rappolo is a member who owns a bail bonds company and car repair place. Lt. Governor Jay Darden will be the speaker at their first open meeting.


Brian Salvatore has been going to the Vision 2020 meetings. He noted that there are problems with our city’s schools, in large part because of people leaving the city’s inner neighborhoods for outer areas within the school district. The other districts are looking out for themselves and not for the core. But, we have problems in the central city. An idea that deserves consideration is of having a brand new high school in Allendale or nearby that includes mentoring and the people don’t go home at 5:00. A friend of Loe’s said a lot of the problems could be fixed by redrawing the lines. People won’t live in Highland because the school is supposedly bad in Creswell. They can’t risk their kids not getting into a magnet school if the elementary and middle school is bad.

Salvatore noted that magnet schools were created under the Caddo Parish School District's Consent Decree with the US Justice Dept. in 1981, and although these schools appear to solve certain problems, they often do not. We are using competitive exams to isolate the highest performing students from those students who remain in the neighborhood schools. Meanwhile, we are not addressing the fundamental problems in the neighborhood schools. Salvatore also noted that, in his opinion, we do not engage Southern University enough to help solve these problems in our school district. Their faculty have the knowledge and the expertise about how to address these problems. Kempff noted that Southern also has a certification program for day care.

It was noted that the school board could be engaged to get them to work together. It was said they are open about problems of racism and discrimination but it doesn’t get them anywhere. It was noted that they have to start much earlier engaging the mothers of the children, teaching them how to discipline the children, etc. It was also noted that those mothers lack trust, often for good reason, with racism and discrimination being real, as well as education and income inequality; that means that a person who is low income and African-American can know that what works for a white middle-class person won’t necessarily work for them. Salvatore spoke favorably of Reverend Jones at Galilee City, and Theron Jackson’s “Never Be Nothing” and the idea of an academy for students from a certain background. Amy Loe has had the idea of having sister schools that couple up and mentor. Salvatore said mentorship is good, and is not seen as condescending, but is what they want. Pedro noted that one can give it a try and see how it goes. Kempff and Galloway noted that Jackson’s idea parallels the Harlem Academy and something in either Chicago or Philly. Oraph Winfrey’s school in Africa was also mentioned.

ABetterShreveport will meet again next Monday, again at Cohabit from 6:00 to 7:00-ish. Join us! We’re havin’ fun!


Jeff Wellborn said...

Know that anything having to do with the land that constitutes the dump-you cannot dig into the cap. Not to plant trees, not to put in a fence, etc.

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